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Kept the green dots moving? Check. - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
March 19th, 2006
08:37 pm

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Kept the green dots moving? Check.
One day, I'll make an icon that captures the image I have in mind that the above phrase conjures for me. I think that I got the image from Quicken's autoupdate progress display - there are green dots that seem to indicate network traffic, sometimes the dots move from client to server, sometimes they move from server to client. As long as the green dots are moving, things are getting done, one assumes.

Dots equal bullet points equal un-numbered list items.


  • Happy Birthday! - to any and all of you who might be having birthdays. But in particular, I went to the party of the 4-year old daughter of a friend of mine on Saturday. Someday, I might consider having kids, but spending a few hours with a room full of three-to-four year old girls is enough to scare me away from the idea for a while. I'm sure I was a handful as a kid, but yikes.

  • Podcast Inconsistency - I know there are people more informed than I about the different models of iPods out there, perhaps you can explain this to me. I've got my iTunes downloading podcasts. That's fairly cool. I can't seem to edit certain bits of what I've downloaded (e.g. one of the podcasts I subscribe to didn't specify a "release date" for episodes 2 through 15, and it'd be nice if I were able to fix that so that the episodes sort correctly). I've got familiar with what to expect if I want to listen to podcasts on my iPod Shuffle. Now that I've got a full-on iPod, I've discovered that when I reach the end of an episode, the player stops, instead of going on to the next episode. That's not what the Shuffle does - it just keeps on going merrily with whatever's next in its list.

    Is there a way to tell my iPod that I'd like to listen to all episodes of a podcast without stopping? Or, even better, all episodes that I haven't yet listened to? A couple of my podcasts are around 10 minutes per episode, and if I could just press one button to listen to a long chain, that'd be keen. I could even get behind 6 buttons up front so I don't have to press a button and fiddle with the wheel between episodes.

  • Hollendaise Fish - I wrote earlier about spam I got. In writing about that, I got awfully hungry. So I went out to "Bonefish" - is that a huge chain? It's probably more popular than Gap meets Starbucks and I haven't got out enough to notice. There's one in Bothell, which seems like one of the last places that a upscale-ish fish restaurant would do lots of business, but whenever I go there, it's packed. So I often end up at the bar.

    Er, I've ALWAYS sat at the bar.

    And I ordered my salmon with lemon butter sauce and garlic mashed potatoes. I'm about halfway through my dinner when the bartender (cute blonde woman) who took my order goes off duty, and is replaced. I recognize the new woman as somebody who waited on me the first time I went there. I've got a bit of a crush on her, but I'm pretty sure she's in a serious relationship based on conversation I overheard - not that I was trying to eavesdrop, mind you. Sigh. Oh, well.

  • When it starts to hail, that's God's way of telling you to stop gardening, dink - I've mentioned that I'm excited to get a jump on my lawn and garden chores this year. One thing that's been bugging me for the past several months is a fair amount of blackberry vines infesting one of my rhododendrons. It only bugs me because this is directly outside the window where I work during the day. It's also in my backyard webcam when I've got that thing updating, in case you're familiar with that. So Saturday morning, I got out and cut back a lot of vines, and I feel pretty good about that. I think I may take a shot at running the lawnmower over the cut vines so that they fit better into the yard waste can. After spending around an hour teasing vines out of shrub, it began to hail. There's still more to do, and I should have done some this afternoon, as it was warm and fairly dry. But I was a little lazy.

  • Anybody who wasn't in 'Crash', raise your hand - or, if you haven't seen it. Come ON, Tony Danza is in it, so it must be a good movie, right?

    Meh.

    I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I liked the performances, to be sure - but the story (stories?) was just way too contrived to really work for me, not to mention emotionally manipulative. I don't mind there being a point to a movie, and sometimes subtlety isn't necessary, but this really didn't feel like the best movie of the year.

  • You're so honest - the place where I saw 'Crash' is a quaint little theatre that does limited run stuff. That's where I saw the Enron documentary, the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill documentary, and a few others. Oh, 'The Aristocrats'. They have a full bar, too. I'm not a complete boozehound, but I felt like chemically altering my mood before seeing 'Crash', so the bar was a welcome feature tonight. I wanted to pay for the drink, the popcorn, and the movie admission all at once, and after the lights came down, I knew that the $11 figure the bartender/popcorn vendor/admission taker quoted me couldn't be right. I went back after the movie let out and, sure enough, she hadn't charged me admission.

    The bartender was amazed that I was there trying to give her money, but I know that the theatre can't be doing so much business that it can afford to have customers not pay.


    In a somewhat different moment earlier today, I was at a game store (because I'm a geek, and I needed a roll up vinyl hex grid map for a game), and I stood at the cash register, which was unmanned, for maybe 15 minutes. The notion of taking my pile of would-be-purchases out the wide open door occurred to me, but really, I am not a thief. One thing that irks me about game stores is that they have come to be de facto community centers where kids can get together and occupy their time in ostensibly wholesome ways like taking over the world, or some other world, or leading a seige into a crypt of eldridch horror and demonic peril.

    In truth, I've got no problem with those pastimes. And I'm somewhat OK with kids doing them on a nice sunny Sunday afternoon. It irks me, however, that kids aren't doing these things at home where a somewhat responsible adult might be around. Probably more than that, it irks me that these kids are taking up floorspace in the game store which might otherwise be used for a diversity of game products. Or, if the game store carried the same quantity of goods, if they didn't have gaming tables, they might fit into a smaller store, which might mean lower prices to me, or higher margins to the proprietor (which might in turn mean that the store wouldn't go out of business quite as quickly).

    So, I was standing at the cash register for 15 minutes, and the store was FULL. Obviously not full of paying customers. Eventually, one of the guys playing some sort of collectible card game turned around and asked me if I needed help. Turns out, this guy had been an owner of another game store in town, and recognized me. But, and this strikes me as funny, HE DIDN'T WORK AT THIS STORE. The one person who provided me any sort of customer service was not affiliated with the store in any way.

    Guh. I like supporting my local independant businesses, really. I want to keep the bricks and mortar browsing experience alive. I'll even subsidize weekend games of Warhammer 40,000 for high school kids if I have to. But let's keep the priorities straight. If someone walks into your place of business and wants to give you money, make it easy for them to do so. I'm sure I wouldn't have stolen the goods, but I was very close to leaving the goods on the counter and leaving the store angry.

    I'm still a little angry - probably moreso from having recounted the experience here. I'm considering writing the management to let them know how to improve their service, and I probably will. The last time I wrote email to this store, however, I got no response, and that was a friendly email.



That's enough for now.

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[User Picture]
From:sboyko
Date:March 20th, 2006 11:12 am (UTC)

Geekitude

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Gaming stores provide some of the worst customer experiences, if you're not a friend of the staff. What you describe has been my (past) experience, too.

Other stores that provide that community "hang-out" experience:
- most model train stores
- comic book stores

Part of it is from catering to geeks*, and part of it is the nature of the merchandise. In a gaming store there are always things to look at, and stories to tell relating to the items. There's not much to do in a clothing store besides try stuff on, and between one day and the next the inventory doesn't turn over that much. "This blue blouse reminds me of the time we were going through G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King when we found the evidence that the Drow were behind the giants..."

* of course, I consider myself a geek
[User Picture]
From:tsmaster
Date:March 20th, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Geekitude

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This blue blouse

Omigawd, I just couldn't wear that with my Elven Cloak. Do these Boots of Striding make my thighs look big?
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From:celisnebula
Date:March 20th, 2006 03:22 pm (UTC)

Geeks ahoy!

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Bleh. That is weird. We've got three game stores here in town, a little Mom and Pop one (indecently cheap games for the kidlet) that is just around the corner, GameCrazy which is about 6 blocks away, and EB Games at the mall (ugly place). I get pretty good service at all three, though EB has these weird, car salesmen like workers. They're always full of kids playing video games (and I admit I play them when I'm there sometimes too), but I've never had to wait for service (unless there was a line of people checking out).

spending a few hours with a room full of three-to-four year old girls

Oi. I don't do those sort of parties. I did one where kidlet was the only boy at the roller rink, and all I can say is I was ready to have my tubes tied, and I work daycare in the evenings. *shudders* Little girls in a group is scary!

I'll stick with boys, nice rough and tumble, and well boyish.
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From:tsmaster
Date:March 20th, 2006 04:37 pm (UTC)

Re: Geeks ahoy!

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EB Games at the mall (ugly place)

Indeed. In my experience, console game stores tend to be sterile, unpleasant places. They often have one or two game console systems set up to show off the flavor of the month, and occasionally, I'll see some 8-year old there, but this doesn't distract the Guy Behind the Counter.

More character is found at the places that sell computer games - or at least, that was my experience when there were places like this, and when they were distinct from console game stores (like EB/EBX/Gamestop...). They used to be funkier places, often mom and pop stores.

And then you jump over into the world(s) of board/miniature/role playing games. God help you. Games Workshop does, and Wizards of the Coast did, run retail stores that sold a variety of games. WotC was pretty good about not *just* selling Dungeons and Dragons games - but stocking the shelves with party games, Euro-style board games, abstract strategy games, and war games. I tend to stay a safe radius away from Games Workshop stores, but they seem to focus on miniatures, and perhaps even focus on their own line of miniatures - I don't know.

These places, while uncomfortably corporate for my taste, seem to have "professional" people behind the counter. By which, I think I mean that the people behind the counter stay there and don't wander off to gape at the new stuff that's come in. And, from that characterization, it's not hard to guess that the people that worked at WotC worked there because it was just another job at the mall, and they'd actually be happier working at the Gap next door.

Now, contrast that with the independantly run game store that specializes in miniatures or role playing games (and maybe comics). I'll bet that most kids that work there are getting paid less than at the mall, but the ability to see this week's games coming out of the box makes it worth it. There are benefits and drawbacks to the customer - the kid who loves games may well be more informed about them than the droid at the mall, and might be able to answer a question. He might not shut up after answering the question, though. The kid who can be enticed to work at a game store cheaply has obvious financial benefits to the store, which may well end up trickling down to the customer in some fashion. But I can totally understand the kid working in the game store being more interested in the games than the people that come in to buy the games, and that's bad business.


When I was in high school, there was one place like this in town. It catered largely to the transient Naval population - seems like "Dungeons & Dragons" and "Call of Cthulhu" were well received by a certain fraction of this nation's nuclear submarine sailors. The store had a couple of tables set up, and every now and then, I'd bike up there with a pocketful of lawnmowing money to buy some brand new gaming accessory. I don't know if it was a Mom and Pop affair - there were two chain smoking overweight people who could have been married that were almost always behind the counter.


I guess that's all I'm asking for - hire the geeky kid for minimum wage plus an employee discount, but chain him to the cash register.

From:traypup
Date:March 20th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
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I don't shop in gaming stores; I hire someone to take care of my yard, it's not my birthday, I wasn't in crash, I am still figuring out podcasts. The only thing I feel qualified to comment on is the word "boozehound."

Boozehound. heh.
[User Picture]
From:tsmaster
Date:March 20th, 2006 04:44 pm (UTC)
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riffing off that word, I offer you these lyrics from "The Simpsons":


Sherry Bobbins]
In front of a Tavern, flat on his face
A booze-hound named Barney is pleading his case...

[Barney]
Buy me a beer...two bucks a glass...
C'mon help me i'm freezing my ass...
Buy me brandy...a snifter of wine
Who am i kidding, i'll drink turpentine...

[Moe]
Move it! You drunk...or I'll blast your rear-end

[Barney]
I found two bucks
[Moe]
Then come in my friend...

[Sherry Bobbins]
And soo let us leave on this heartwarming scene.

[Bart]
Can I be a booze-hound...
[Homer]
Not till you're fifteen...
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